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Shadow of a Doubt

Day 48: June 17th, 2010

Shadow of a Doubt

Joseph Cotten Is Terrific In Hitchcock's Slow Burner.

The Newton family receives a telegram that their uncle Charlie is coming to town to spend some time with them. His niece, whom is named after him suspects that he is not all he claims to be, when two detectives start questioning them.

Rope, Saboteur and now Shadow of A Doubt. These are the only three films from the legendary Hitchcock that I have seen. Each one couldn't be more different. One is confined to one room, while another takes one character across America. Shadow of a Doubt tells the tale of family secrets and takes us to a small town. The film creates the tension needed to make one just uneasy enough to sit through the film. Shadow of a Doubt is considered one of Hitchcock's classic films and according to his daughter, his personal favourite. I found it to be rather brilliant at times, but testing at others. Joseph Cotten plays the character of uncle Charlie, who is downright frightening at times and made my enjoyment of the film more fulfilling.

I won't go into detail about the plot of the film, I went in knowing nothing about it and appreciate it more because of that. The film doesn't depend on star power or any glamour, just the story and characters. The uncle Charlie character is one creepy guy who is portrayed brilliantly by Joseph Cotten. In one brilliant scene he has a monologue that is pretty harsh, even by today's standards and one simple turn of the head makes the scene all the more intense and creepy.

The film doesn't reach the suspense levels of other films in his catalogue, I've seen bits and pieces of Rear Window, which was more suspenseful, but it does have the slow burner feel that builds up to something. You know some kind of confrontation is about to happen at the climax and your itching for it to happen the whole time. A few things did bother me though, even if they were intentional.

The sexual tension between uncle and niece is just a bit much. It seemed that in every scene they were itching to go at each other. The constant talking about how much they have in common and how they are so alike is fine, until they start to hold each other and get close. It's uncomfortable. Second, the detective declaring his love for Charlie, totally out of place. To me there was not enough room for the two to grow as a romantic couple. Does she feel the same way? No, which is what made me a little bit happier, had she had the same feelings as him, I would have been upset with this film.

Shadow of a Doubt is a well crafted thriller that doesn't mind taking it's time getting to where it wants to go. Subtle hints here and there adds to the mystery of what's going and is intriguing. It pulls the viewer into the web that is this story. It's not my favourite Hitchcock film, but rather one that I appreciate and respect the most, at least so far.